Kulturnatten / Stockholm Culture Night

Last Saturday Stockholm celebrated Kulturnatten, the annual Culture Night, when several cultural venues, events and activities are opened up to the public from 18:00 to 24:00. The program boasts of dance workshops, film viewings, photo  & art exhibitions, theatre & opera visits,  among others. And the best part? All free of charge! Mr.A and I went on a spree, enjoying our evening to the fullest. Here’s where we went…

Pitstop #1: Tessinska Palatset & Barouque Gardens. We started at Gamla Stan where the residence of the Governor of Stockholm County invited visitors to view its beautiful rooms and barouque gardens. We returned later again to this place as there was a guided tour of the rooms scheduled for 22:30 in the night.

 

Pitstop #2: Storkyrka or the Great Cathedral in Gamla Stan has been around since 1264. We were lucky to catch a harmonious piano recital, perfectly befitting the serene atmosphere of the church.

Pitstop #3: Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities showcases two sculpture galleries at the Royal Palace. It is one of the oldest museums in Europe,  opened since 1794. These stone figures are displayed today exactly as they were back in the day. The galleries themselves are quite charming, complete with Romanesque pillars, arched roofs and checkered floors.

Pitstop #4: For our next stop we moved to the island of Djurgarden, to the Spritmuseum and the Absolut Art Collection. The museum is housed in an old wooden building by the pier and a drink by the water quite a welcoming option. The art collection was intriguing in itself, each being  collaboration with some artist famous in their own right, ranging from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring to Kenny Scharf.

Pitstop #5: Biologiska Museet was next on the list. This, too, is housed in an ancient looking wooden building. The intricately carved door has always fascinated me, and the interiors impressed me too. The two-storeyed montage of taxidermied animals against a Scandinavian landscape is a great scene for children to learn from. A century-old family of grizzlies is a cool sight too!

Pitstop #6: The Royal Opera building in itself is so amazing. And if you get to not only walk around its gilded halls but also see a show in the main hall for free, that’s what I call a real treat! Perfect ending to our fun night in the city:)

Berlin & remains of the Wall

When Mr.A & I visited Berlin, we wanted to see the Berlin Wall up close. I researched a bit on the internet and found the best suggestion on traveldudes.org. They talk about three spots where the Wall is best preserved. We went to each of them and at each spot one may experience a different feeling.

1. Topography of Terror: 

Websitehttp://www.topographie.de

Address : Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin

I shared some pictures from this site in a previous post about exploring Berlin. Topography of Terror is a museum that documents the reign of Hitler through the years and how Germany, and the world at large, was affected by the Nazi era. In fact, the museum stands at approximately the same spot where the Gestapo once had their headquarters. A section of the Berlin Wall still stands before it, a grim reminder of the past. The studies and photos are very detailed and quite an eye-opener even for a well-read traveler. One might come off a bit overwhelmed by this visit.

On a separate note, if you want to rent one of the lockers, make sure you have a €1 coin, the cafeteria will probably not help you out. The closest metro station would be Potsdamer Platz.

2. Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center: 

Websitehttp://www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de

Address : Bernauer Straße 119, 13355 Berlin

This memorial has a kilometer and a half stretch of the Wall. The events that took place here are documented through pictures and artefacts at the Documentation Center. There are a couple of floors, so allow yourself some time. A watch tower at the Center provides a wider view of the Wall and what used to be two sides of divided Germany. To reach this site, take the metro to Nordbahnhof. Incidentally, Nordbahnhof used to be one of the ghost stations on the Eastern side that were blocked away during the Cold War. The station also has images and stories of how these ghost stations came to be. Mr.A and I felt quite moved with our experience here. It is hard to imagine what it must have been for the people loving here not so far back in the past.

3. East Side Gallery: 

Websitehttp://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de

Address : Mühlenstraße, 10243 Berlin

The East Side Gallery is often called the longest open air gallery in the world. Here, remains of the Berlin Wall stretch for over a kilometer along the Spree river. Once a symbol of separation, it is now covered with artists’ impressions advocating freedom for everybody. Some paintings have deteriorated over time due to vandalism and erosion, but some work is being done to preserve it, including fences to protect certain parts. To reach the Gallery, one could either hop off at the metro station Ostbahnhof and walk along the wall to the next metro, Warschauer Straße, or vice versa. Walking along the water is also very pleasant. I quite liked this one, given my love for murals, graffiti & street art.

There are, of course, several other places where you may see bits of the wall remaining, but they would be smaller in scale as compared to the spots mentioned above. Have you visited Berlin? Did you make it to any of these memorials? What did you think? I’d love to know!

Weekly Photo Challenge : Dance

 

Dance : In Hindu mythology, Nataraj (or Natraj or Nataraja), the dancing form of Shiva, performs the cosmic dance of destruction. ‘Nataraj’ literally translates to ‘King of Dance’ in Sanskrit, a combination of ‘nata’ meaning dance and ‘raja’ meaning king. Nataraj’s dance symbolises the eternal cycle of destruction and creation. Nataraj represents apocalypse and creation as he dances away a retrograde world, and renews it with power and enlightenment.

This photo was clicked on my birthday this year when I visited the Östasiatiskt (East Asian) museum, in Stockholm.

Drop by to view my previous entries to the Weekly Photo Challenge; I’d love to hear what you think!

Exploring Berlin

Mr.A and I went to Berlin for a weekend last month. This is our first tick on our 2016 Travel Checklist. So happy to start off on our adventures right away! Berlin, and Germany as a whole, has been at the heart of history for such a long time. There are so many levels at which you can explore this amazing city. Try one of the history walks through the city, visit their many impressive museums, eat curry wurst and wash it down with some beer, or give their nightlife a go. There is always something for everyone in Berlin!

1. The Reichstag

2. Brandenburger Torg & Pariser Plats 

3. Unter den Linden & Friedrichstraße 

4. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

5. Hitler’s bunker 

6. Bebelplatz & Neue Wache 

7. Museum Island

 8. Marx-Engels Forum & Neptunbrunnren 

9. Alexanderplatz 

10. Topography of Terror & Checkpoint Charlie 

11. Gendarmenmarkt 

12. Kurfürstendamm 

Have you been to Berlin? What was your favourite part of this enchanting city? I’d love to know!

2015 reading challenge

I didn’t make it to my goal, just one short of my plan of 18, but I’m not beating myself up about it. I did read 17 books, and some really nice ones at that. I told you about some of them when I made it to my half-way mark of 9 books. A snapshot for the remaining ones follows…

  • Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates is a poignant tale of a young woman who unexpectedly has to learn to cope with her mother’s sudden & violent death. It made me think that never mind how tough one is, there are some things life can never prepare you for.
  • Untold Story by Monica Ali tells the story of a princess who, hounded by the public eye and fearing for her life, fakes her own death and recreates a life away from her past. The author takes Princess Diana’s death as a hypothetical start of her story. Makes one wonder, what if…? In fact, I read Brick Lane earlier this year, another book by Monica Ali. Must say, I enjoyed both of her works almost equally.
  • Balika Badhu (The Child Bride) by Monish Ranjan Chatterjee is a classic in Bengali literature. Sadly I am nearly illiterate in my own mother tongue, but I am glad that works of Bengali literature have been widely translated into English and I am making an attempt to read more of them.
  • Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala won the Man Booker Prize in 1975. The story runs in parallel between past & present following the story of Olivia who struggles to survive societal bounds in Colonial India, and her step-granddaughter who travels to India 50 years later to uncover the mystery of the scandal that engulfed Olivia. A good read, though I did not quite enjoy the extreme coincidences between the lives of the two leading ladies.
  • Seven by Five by H.E.Bates, a collection of short stories, all of them a little too glum and grey for my taste. I didn’t even find the book on Goodreads, so that was proof enough for me that it wasn’t going to be a great book anyway. But I bought it last year at the Bokbordet, the same weekend that hosted the Stockholm Zombie Walk and the Midnattsloppet, so at least I have some happy memories of how it came to be mine:)
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is based in an imaginary scenario where they belong to a ‘species’ of clones borne & raised solely for the purpose of organ donations. However, human feeling is not something that can be engineered, and the book tracks a poignant trail of three friends whose lives are bound by love, friendship, jealousy, a shared past and a common fate. I watched the movie, too, but as mostly happens for me, I like the book better.
  • Lord of the Flies by Nobel prize-winning author William Golding is a hypothetical story of a bunch of schoolboys who are stranded on an island. The story tells of loss of innocence and acquisition of power among those boys, who are far from being men yet. It reveals how dangerously the human psyche may work around power & violence. I enjoyed the book, although it was  quite a horrific realization that this was very close to a possible reality.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is such a popular work that has been portrayed in plays and movies several times over. I can’t say it is one of my favorites, but I guess it depicts very accurately the decadence of American society in the 20’s. Still, happy to have another classic under my belt!

Here’s a peek at my 2014 Goodreads Reading challenge. Have you read any of the books from my lists? Did you enjoy them? I’d love to know, so please do share!